Ship in the grip of Arctic blizzard

BLIZZARD The crew of Portsmouth-based HMS Illustrious feel the full force of the Arctic weather
BLIZZARD The crew of Portsmouth-based HMS Illustrious feel the full force of the Arctic weather
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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HMS Illustrious has been in the grip of a freezing Arctic blizzard during Nato war games off the coast of northern Norway.

The Portsmouth-based helicopter carrier felt the full force of the weather as snow flurries swept through Vågsfjorden, near the port of Harstad.

BLIZZARD The crew of Portsmouth-based HMS Illustrious feel the full force of the Arctic weather

BLIZZARD The crew of Portsmouth-based HMS Illustrious feel the full force of the Arctic weather

Commando Lynx and Sea King helicopters were set to embark 40 Royal Marines of Kilo Company, 42 Commando, when the weather took a turn for the worse – and all flying operations were postponed until further notice.

Flight deck crews worked around the clock in -40C temperatures to lash down the aircraft and clear the snow to get the operations back under way. The weatherwas so cold that exposed skin could freeze almost instantly, the navy said.

Lusty’s commanding officer Captain Martin Connell said: ‘We have prepared for this, both in terms of training and with all our equipment, and I am very pleased with the way the crew have approached the exercise throughout the ship.’